The New England Patriots can certainly improve their roster on the sidelines with the NFL season less than two weeks away. And one specific area for improvement is New England’s offensive line, a group that left a lot to be desired during training camp.
If the Patriots are interested in improving up front, Las Vegas Raiders offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood could be a low-risk, high-reward move worth considering. Leatherwood was Alabama’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, though the arrivals of former general manager Dave Ziegler and first-year head coach Josh McDaniels don’t feature the same ties to Leatherwood, who was drafted by former general manager Mike Mayock.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport shared on Monday how Leatherwood could be on the trading block in Las Vegas. Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus also reported last week how Leatherwood could be a potential business candidate as he didn’t start training camp while playing deep in pre-season games. Leatherwood still remains at the top of the team unofficial depth chart at right tackle, although reports from Las Vegas said he was something like fourth on the depth chart.
The fact that the Raiders could strongly consider scrapping the old first round, as Beat reporters also shared, a hint that a trade package shouldn’t be too expensive.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Leatherwood fell short of billing a first-rounder in his rookie season. He started in all 17 games for Las Vegas while struggling at tackle and right guard. He compiled a brutal 30.7 tackle rating and 54.0 guard rating, shared by Kyed.
But trading for Leatherwood would be more about betting on its potential. He impressed coming out of Alabama after being recognized as an All-American for his senior season. Back then, he used his 6-foot-6, 312-pound frame at left tackle and became one of the best in the country.
The Patriots currently have a starting left tackle in Trent Brown, but the absence from training camp of Isaiah Wynn has posed questions at the other tackle spot, and thus the rest of the offensive line. Left guard Cole Strange, center David Andrews and all-rounder Mike Onwenu will almost certainly start alongside Brown along with Justin Herron, Yodny Cadjus and others. Leatherwood, at worst, would provide a piece of depth with more high-end flair.